The Forgiving – A New Poem

The quiet cloud floats downward from
the sky mountain diffusing its cool vapours
over wet weathering ridges
which line the enamelled light

of dawn, its touch upon the skin
opens my solitary path upward
along the Bahagha road where the muted cow-herd
now a mnemonic ghost moans its death rattle

across an earth torn for commercial forests —
set beneath giant mills thumping
against the wind for subsidised profit,
while isolated, fearful hill-farmers

call out my singular strangers passing
to their sister-women baking
brown-smoked soda bread rising,
over ancestral peat, its black fire

turning my memory to leather booted footsteps
pressing against the hard ground above Meenvee,
where old-fashioned clan-men, walked slow,
steady, along rough gravel roads

droving native wild cattle
toward their slaughtering place —
the cycle of time flowing through my steps
returns me to this haunt of sacrifice*

where all I have learnt tapers away
into the nameless; the forgiving breath exhaling
through the marrow of my animal bones, lightly blesses —
then lets me go.

* Audbart i recht ‘sacrifice according to (Mosaic) law’ was one of the four uses of cows.


Ted McNamara